By Laurie Oswald Robinson
Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is requesting donations to support the people of South Sudan who are suffering trauma and extreme hunger as they flee an armed conflict in their new nation.
More than 800,000 people are displaced within the country, just formed in 2011, and more than 250,000 are refugees in neighboring countries, according to the United Nations. The conflict, which began in December 2013 because of a split within the ruling political party, escalated into widespread violence.
Nearly a third of the population is facing starvation in South Sudan, according to Ken and Laura Litwiller, MCC’s area directors in East Africa, from Lewistown, Pa. Those who have been displaced by fighting – people now living in Awerial, Renk and Bor – urgently need food, clean water, medicine and seeds before planting season ends this month.
“A great deal of international attention has been given to political posturing and spectacular acts of violence,” the Litwillers wrote. “But many more will lose their lives in the slowly unfolding humanitarian catastrophe of famine, floods and cholera that the rains will bring with the end of the planting season this month.”
MCC encourages prayer for the people of South Sudan. MCC is also asking for financial donations as well as blankets and relief and hygiene kits. These practical items are in high demand as MCC continues to respond to needs in South Sudan and other areas such as Syria, Ukraine, Bosnia and Serbia.
So far, MCC has provided almost $200,000 in emergency assistance for South Sudan and neighboring countries. Through partner organizations, MCC is currently:
· Providing one meal a day for 3,000 displaced children living near the Awerial Dicoese in Lake State.
· Financially supporting leaders from the South Sudan Council of Churches as they attend peace talks.
· Providing emergency food for 4,000 displaced and vulnerable people in Renk.
· Supporting training sessions on trauma healing for 80 women and youth from local South Sudanese churches.
· Supplying hygiene items and blankets to refugees arriving at Gambella refugee camp in Ethiopia and food assistance for refugees in Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya.
Donations can be made online at donate.mcc.org or by calling 1-877-517-5673. Designate your gift for “South Sudan Emergency Assistance.”